Today I headed of to Tam Thanh Mural Village with Thinh the driver who had taken me from Da Nang Railway Station to Hoi An.
On the way from Da Nang had passed me a business card and said he would drive to any of the sights I want to see.
How much would he charge to drive me to Tam Thanh Mural Village I asked? He hadn’t heard of this by had a look at the screen shot on my phone.
A round trip including two hours waiting time would cost me £30. Substantially cheaper than prices I had been seen online.
Wait a minute.
If I am so concerned about the environment, why am I not taking a bus? There isn’t one. There is one company that runs tours to the village but only if you have a minimum of two people on the booking.
So, I made plans with Thinh to go to the village today and he picked up on time, commenting that he was relieved that the weather had improved as he was worried I would cancel.
As we drove he told me about the surrounding area, which was mostly woodland and graveyards. It is all changing as new developments are planned.
A new road was already being constructed to connect Hoi An to a new village. This is likely to be made up of residential business and factory use. Thinh’s view was that this area will look very different in ten years’ time.
It was a highly entertaining drive as he asked about family life in the UK. “You live like birds,” he said when I told him that we don’t usually have multiple generations under one roof.
He felt this was a loss for us – not having the benefit of grandparents’ advice and support while they don’t experience the happiness of having children living with them.
I said: “We visit.”
This cut no mustard.
I asked him about his family. He is the eldest of four siblings and they live in the family home with their children. What about his parents?
His Mum is still alive but his Dad is “visiting the gods”.
Thinh has a very poetic way with words.
He shouldn’t just advertise his services as a driver for airport pickups and tours… he needs to market his careers advisory service.
By the time we had arrived at Tam Thanh, he had worked out a business plan for me. I didn’t need to pay him, just remember him when I am rich.
So, why did I want to visit Tam Thinh?
I had read about the Mural Village and was determined to visit.
Tam Thanh had been a quiet village until 2016 when a Korean–Vietnamese joint project called “Art For A Better Community.”
Inspired by the success of mural villages in Korea, the project set out to make Tam Thanh the first painted village of its kind in Vietnam.
Every building in the village was painted – some in pastel tones without any designs.
The project was a success, and the village has been brought to life by the paintings.
The entire town now a walk-through gallery just waiting to be explored. Part of the project’s goal was to show people that art doesn’t only have to be in galleries. Art is for every day.
The murals that adorn it capture the life of the village, from young children playing, to fishermen in the ocean. Mixed in are a number of fantasy pieces.
The artwork has invigorated the village with visitors heading there to see it and the tourism supports the local community.
We arrived at the village and spotted the welcome sign so Thinh dropped me here and headed off to find a coffee.
I set off.
No sign of any art work. Maybe I had gone the wrong way. I found the beach, looking amazing now that the typhoon had passed.
I did wonder if I had found some art work when I saw this penguin…
It was a bin.
I turned back, asked for directions, and followed another road. This was not looking likely either.
By now an hour had passed. I asked for directions again. Oh, it was 3km in THAT direction I was told. Hmm, 3km is not far unless it is 32°C in direct sunlight and yesterday it had been 22°C.
I went to find Thinh but where is car had been parked was not a digger, taking a house apart.
I set off walking in the correct direction and coming towards me was Thinh in the car.
He had had a coffee and then had decided to go and see this art work that I was so interested in. This had been the first time he had heard of it.
He too had set off walking. After fifteen minutes he had asked directions and discovered the location. Concerned about my not being used to the heat he had set off to find me.
He had eventually reached the village and, not seeing me, turned back to check the road. As a result of this he could give me a guided tour of where he had already spotted some beautiful murals.
I told him he needed to add this destination to his tour repertoire.
Wherever I have been on this trip, people have just been kind. Yes, I know I was paying for Thinh’s time but that concern about about my wellbeing in the heat was very touching.
From the motorcycle rider who was concerned about me waiting for a bus in the hot sun to Nony, who I haven’t yet mentioned, the bag designer who made me a new leather handbag, I have been struck by people’s care.
She listened to all of my needs – what I carry on a daily basis and that I’m travelling – and when I returned she had made it and added more consideration… soft handles so they don’t hurt my shoulders and strong but lightweight leather so there is no unnecessary weight.
Every place I have left on this trip, I have taken with me memories of kind and thoughtful people.
By the time we returned to Hoi An, Thinh had worked out further details for my business plan. I just need to make sure I remember them when I return to the UK.
He was greatly concerned at my quitting work to travel.
“You work, you spend but you have income. You have no income now but you’re still spending.”
He looked very serious.
“Try to sleep well,” he laughed. Careers advice he may offer, counselling, he shouldn’t.
If you’re in Hoi An and need a driver, drop Thinh a line. It will be a highly entertaining drive.